Tuesday, April 22, 2008
I've been pondering the disappearance of culture.
As a child, my mother told me stories. She told me all the stories. On quiet days, near sunset, I remember going into her room. She would pull out her jewelry box and we would go through each piece. The jewels became anchors for me. Little shiny bits of the past. Each having its own tale to tell. Things are like that. Trees and rocks and land are like that. It's never been a stretch for me to see the souls of the inanimate.
I'm not sure how Mother knew that I had the memory to hold all of these things. I'm certain she did not suspect those stories would end with me, since I have no small ones to whisper the histories to. No small ones to sing the old songs to. I write to leave them here--but honestly, most of that knowledge will die with me. There was just so much of it, you see.
I see the same thing all around me here. But it's a willful death caused by the dearth of close listeners. I didn't realize I was special. I never thought myself so. But I must be, for I don't see many willing to hold the stories in their souls--to bear that responsibility. Jimmy is like me. I think that's why we get along so well. But we are unusual people.
It's not an evil thing--it just is. The lore written down by the Firefox project in the 1960s is for the most part, extinct knowledge. It is now the stuff of legend and no longer recognized and practiced. The generation following that generation kept much of that lore--but much of it is still strange to them. That generation is in their 70's and 80's now. Those of my generation hold even less of the knowledge and it is fuzzy. The youngsters are caught up in the modern world in a way that makes it difficult to imagine or incorporate the old stories. This is how culture dies. It fades away like a lost god weeping for worship.
This is sad, I think. I so admire Japanese culture for its ability to keep old and new together. I think we could use a bit of that reverence.
If you have little ones, consider spending some quiet time--away from the soccer practice, away from the sports and all the things that make this life so hectic--and curling up in a dim room with the relics of your past to tell the stories. Pass on the lore. Honor the ancestors.